"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
The last time we took this tour was June 30, 2002 and it was time we did it again. This time we were armed with a better camera (mine) which also shot HD video. Al also had his own camera and he sat in the lower deck, giving another point a view. We arrived at the Lower Dells Dock parking area, the first Upper Dells ride was at 10:00, a shuttle bus took us to the dock stairs to catch it. These are the boat rides available in summer this year.
The view from the top of the stairs of the boats. Our boat is the Red Cloud, on the left back.
Before you board, you have the chance to get a souvenir picture taken, available upon return. It is $20, includes a 8 x 6″, 2 – 4 x 6″ and three wallet-sized prints, plus a photo key chain for the wallet picture. What a good deal, here is our picture. You can get the same done at the Lower Dells. Just like what H.H. Bennett used to do over 100 years ago.
Now we are on board and on our way! We were lucky to have such a beautiful day. We are visible from the bridge to passersby as we go around the bend to the left, heading to the Gateway up ahead.
We approach the “Gateway of the Dells”, Romance Rock and High Cliff.
The dignified Chief Black Hawk’s Profile.
The Giant’s Shield
This majestic rock is called “Signal Point”, the entrance to Witches Gulch.
It is time for our first stop at Witches Gulch. We disembark and walk the path between tall rock formations, you can see the forest above you. Very beautiful!
On our left is Witches Bathtub.
Spooky Lane, and then…
It opens up to a wide area and concessions/restrooms are available. We had 20 minutes before we had to get back on the boat.
There was also this plaque attached to the side of the rock on our right.
Back on board, we crossed the river to our next attraction, the dog jumping across Stand Rock to re-create Ashley Bennett’s jump that made the Dells famous. We assembled in the small amphitheater with this great view.
The picture on the sign showing the jump.
The dog jumping is a German Shepherd named Radar. Let’s watch!
How exciting that was! Radar is perfectly safe, there is a net below to catch him if he fell.
We continue along the trail, seeing other beautiful rock structures and scenic views of the river.
There is another concession building at the end of the trail. There is another sign explaining how this area came to be.
Scenic View of the river, on our way back to the boat, now docked on the other side opposite of where we dis-embarked.
It was regretfully time to go, so beautiful here.
On our way back to port, what a wonderful ride! A last look at The Palisades rock formation.
As we headed back to our home port, Brendan offered us copies of the Dells Boat Tour Official Guidebook for sale for $5, a great memento of our tour.
This was a very special weekend at H.H. Bennett Studio, they were celebrating their 150th Anniversary and we had to be a part of it. It was our first time visiting and we were in for a treat! Admission is $7 for adults, but waived on this weekend. They always accept donations. There were costumed interpreters, even Ho-Chunk music and dancing since H.H. Bennett was kind to them and allowed him to photograph them. Just outside of the right-side building is a rotating picture display.
H.H. Bennett was a pioneer in photography, he invented the “snapper” in 1878. You no longer had to sit perfectly still for 5 minutes or more to get a portrait taken. He took pictures all over the Dells with his new technique. His most famous shot was his son Ashley jumping at Stand Rock. It took him 17 tries to get this shot. Bennett’s work helped bring people to the Dells and the tourism industry was born there!
Just before a Dells Boat Tour left the dock, Bennett would take a picture of the group in the boat and have the picture developed and printed by the time the group came back. It took A LOT longer to do the tour in the 1880’s, you had to help row the boat! Now it only takes two hours and the crew does all the work.
Photo by H.H. Bennett
The tradition continues now, we got our picture taken just before the tour we did three days later.
We went inside, you could get many souveniers, including prints of Bennett’s famous photos. The docents near the museum entrance greeted and welcomed us. We knew this was going to be fun! The studio continues to support the Ho-Chunk Nation by selling their jewelery and books.
I hear drums! A couple of representatives of the Ho-Chunk are going to be performing some dance and song for the guests. Two talented children showed us what they have learned so far about their culture’s traditions.
There was much to see inside the museum, new displays and really liked how the older building showed how his studio probably originally looked. Also the history of cameras and what ordinary people used in times past, including myself!
Bennett’s descendants are still involved with the museum today. Betsy Grant, Bennett’s Great-Granddaughter, was on hand to tell us about his many accomplishments. It was great meeting you Betsy!
3-D display using Bennett’s photos
Stereo viewers, precursor to Viewmasters.
The Bennett Studio, and displays inside.
I had my picture taken with H.H. Bennett himself 🙂 Al wasn’t nearby at the time.
On the 2nd floor they showed 40 minutes of silent film that Miriam Bennett shot from the 1920’s through the 60’s. These excerpts are Broadway Street scenes from the 20’s, 50’s and some Ho-Chunk dancing. I added some music to the movies.
We had a great time learning about this great Photographer. Nearby is the house where he lived, on 825 Oak Street. The season for visiting here is usually early May through late October.